Pres Buhari appears set to return the 2016 Budget to the National Assembly to rework because what the lawmakers sent to him on Thursday for assent, according to Presidency sources, fell below his expectations, Vanguradngr reports.
The sources confirmed to Sunday Vanguard that the President felt disappointed that provisions for major national projects and programmes that could turn around the economy were either outrightly removed or funds for them ridiculously slashed by the lawmakers.
In a bid to urgently sign the budget, the Presidency had convened an emergency Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Friday where the document was distributed to Ministers to review as it affected their respective ministries, departments and agencies.
At the review meeting, it was discovered that many strategic projects were either removed or provisions made for them significantly slashed to the point that made a mockery of the projects.
Among the key projects removed from the budget by the lawmakers are the all-important Calabar-Lagos coastal rail line for which Buhari had made a provision of N60bn in the 2016 estimates. Incidentally, the railway project is one of the key issues taking Buhari to China this week.
While that was removed, the lawmakers left the Kano/Lagos railway project untouched but also went ahead to reduce the amount set aside for the completion of the Idu/Kaduna railway project, which has reached an advanced stage of completion, by N8.7bn.
It was also learnt that while the executive had provided for the completion of all major road projects across the country, the National Assembly reduced the amounts provided and instead included new roads which studies have not even been conducted.
The source lamented: “The amounts provided by the National Assembly for the projects can neither complete the on-going road projects nor the new ones proposed. At the end of the year, no progress would have been made”
According to the source, a top Presidency official, allocations for the purchase of essential drugs for major health campaigns like polio and AIDS for which the store is fast depleting, were removed and the amounts allocated to provision of ambulance, which the health ministry did not ask for.
The source added that: “It was also observed that certain provisions made in the areas of agriculture and water resources to further the FG’s diversification project were either removed or reduced while the funds were moved to provisions of rural health facilities and boreholes, for which provisions have been made elsewhere.”…. in short there is fire on the mountain of fire….